"Gifts and Giving"

Introduction

First, let us realize that we live in perilous times, some would even say these are the end times. Man's technological ability to be able to literally kill all life off this planet 10 times over by very conservative estimates would indicate this may be true. Man's creation of deadlier and deadlier weapons and weapons' systems continues. Parts of the world are always going into and out of famines and civil wars all the time now as a regular occurrence. Ultimately, there will only be one solution to man's inability to rule over himself and the planet the Lord placed him on, and that will be the actual return of the Lord himself. But on this subject, Jesus told his apostles and disciples that just prior to his return, the gospel of the kingdom of God would be preached around the world (Matthew 24:14). He commissioned his apostles and disciples and all that would follow in their steps to preach the gospel and baptize all that would heed their message of the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus has started to bring this to pass through many high quality Christian evangelistic and teaching ministries that are now spanning the globe in their outreach. Some of these ministries are denominational and some are non-denominational or inter-denominational Christian organizations. All these quality Christian evangelistic and teaching ministries survive and go forward enabled by the Holy Spirit and coupled to a high degree of financial commitment and support from a small but growing group of Christians from all the denominations.

What are God's Biblical principles of Gifts & Giving? I will answer that question in three parts:

  1. The proper attitude we should all have toward giving, especially for those who are the receivers of Christian gifts and tithe/offerings.
  2. The Biblical rules of Giving spelled out in the Bible for the Givers.
  3. Who Should We Give To?
    a. The major portion of one's tithe/offerings should go to the Christian organization that most nourishes that individual spiritually. This is almost always the local congregation or denomination a person belongs to. Some denominations have strict tithing rules tied to their membership while others don't. Calvary Chapel hardly ever teaches about tithing, but is generously blessed buy their member's financial support.
    b. A Christian should also consider donating a smaller portion of his or her tithe/offerings (no more that 33 percent), to a worthy evangelical or teaching ministry that benefits the whole body of Christ across denominational lines. George Mueller set this example for us by donating a portion of the funds the Lord was providing him and his work, and he donated this portion to qualified Christian evangelical organizations and Christian schools (teaching ministries).

Part 1
"Gifts and Giving"

In the biography of George Muller there are some very fascinating parts that make up the whole of this apostle of faith. One such part is his philosophy applying to the subject of gifts and giving. Here is a man who built, established and ran five major orphanage houses totally on faith and prayer, relying on the gifts and giving of others as they were moved by God to give gifts to this great work the Lord started and performed through him. Proportional to his income, he was one of the chief givers to this work the Lord started through him. He never asked one single person for donations or financial support for this work of the Lord. He relied solely on secret prayer and petitions to God for the resources, financial and otherwise, to both build and run these five orphan houses as well as a major evangelical organization called The Scriptural Knowledge Institution. His philosophy is both refreshing and scary, depending on how much faith in the Lord you have and how much faith you have in His promises for provision. The book these excerpts are taken from is George Muller, MAN OF FAITH AND MIRACLES by Basil Miller. It is available online at: http://www.amazon.com or http://www.Christianbooks.com .

Today we find that so many people are being turned off to so called Christian churches and evangelical speakers who have their hands out to the general public for money, and even beg their congregations for money on a constant basis. This is an insult to the Eternal God, who is far from being broke. One of Mr. Muller's favorite Scriptures was "the silver and gold are mine." To quote Mr. Miller's book, he says on page 105, paragraph 2, "The Institution was started solely with God as its Patron and never once did it veer from this original plan. Muller felt that God meant what he said when affirming "the silver and gold are mine." If the work was centered in the divine will, there would be plenty of God's silver and gold to promote its Christian interests." Thus we see (and you will see if you read Mr. Miller's book about Mr. Muller) that finances are no problem for a work centered in the divine will. Now let's learn something of Mr. Muller's philosophy about gifts and giving.

"The SUM total of Mr. Muller's life was giving. He gave himself in prayer that in return God might give the necessary supplies, not only for his own family, but also for the large family of orphans. Basing his life upon receiving from God, in return he practiced the art of liberality. Since God gave to him through faith he must also be among those who were faithful givers.

Even the texts that influenced him most were those on giving and receiving. Throughout his "Narrative" you will find these passages boldly across the pages. Early he and his wife were led to that scripture "Sell that ye have and give alms." (Luke 12:33). This was to be the course of their lives. They were to be sellers and givers.

The Lord, speaking through His Word, said, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do..." (John 14:13). And Mr. Muller based his work upon this promise, asking largely that the Father might be glorified.

Since God had told him to open his mouth Mr. Muller never feared to ask for whatever his work must have. To him this promise was the foundation of all spiritual and temporal success. Like a bird, he opened his mouth and the Lord filled it with the supply of all financial needs.

In Genesis he loved the name Jehovah Jirah, for it meant the Lord will provide (Genesis 22:14). Grandly did God give provisions for the Institution and his Orphan Houses.

From the first records of Mr. Muller's donations, we find him giving on a large scale. During the first year of his life of trust (1831) he received L151 in answer to prayer; but he gave L50 of that sum. [A British pound of that time was worth $5.00] During the second year he gave L70 out of an income of L195. His income for 1833 was L267 brought in through faith, and his gifts amounted to L110.

This giving and receiving kept pace with each other during the long years of his career. For the ten years from 1836 to 1845 his income from all sources was approximately L3,400 and through faith he placed back into the Lord's work about L1,280...

From 1856 to 1865 his income amounted to L10,670, over $50,000...and out of this he devoted L8,250, or a total sum of 41,250, to God's work. Out of L20,500, received from 1866 to 1875, he turned back to Christian endeavors, nearly an average of L1,800 a year [L2,500 a year - L1,800 = L700]. During the next ten years, the last of which a direct record is available, he gave away L22,330 from an income of L26,000, which left him the sum of L3,670 to live on for a period of ten years, or a little over $1,800 a year. And it must be remembered that this decade--`1876 to 1885--was devoted to extensive missionary travels, which constituted a heavy drain on his personal finances.

These donations came to him through faith alone, and he recognized that he must be the channel through which God's gifts should flow out to others in need. He looked upon himself as the Lord's steward. What money he received he believed should be given rather than hoarded.

A crippled woman, who through the years was a constant though small giver to the orphanage work, expressed Mr. Muller's philosophy of living and giving. She began giving a penny a week out of her earnings toward the care of the orphans, and the Lord blessed her so much that she was able to raise her weekly gift to six shillings, or a dollar and a half. One gift she wrapped in a piece of paper, on which she had written: "Give; give--be ever giving. If you are living, you will be giving. Those who are not giving are not living."

The total amount Mr. Muller gave away out of his private funds amounted to approximately $180,000 from the year 1831 to November, 1877. This it must be recalled came out of a poor man's penury. He had only what he prayed in from day to day.

The Fifty-ninth Report of the Institution, issued May 26, 1898, immediately after Mr. Muller's death, reveals a very interesting item concerning this servant's method of giving. Year by year in the annual Reports there were frequent entries of gifts "from a servant of the Lord Jesus, who, constrained by the love of Christ, seeks to lay up treasure in heaven."

Mr. Wright, who succeeded Mr. Muller as head of the Institution, checked those entries, and found that this servant had given up to March 1, 1898, the aggregate sum of eighty-one thousand four hundred and ninety pounds, eighteen shillings and eightpence.

That servant was none other than Mr. Muller himself, who gave out of his own money more than sixty-four thousand five hundred pounds to the Scriptural Knowledge Institution alone, and to other individuals and organizations seventeen thousand more. It seems inconceivable that a poor man should thus give more than $407,450 to the work of God.

There is no other case on record of such magnificent gifts coming from a humbled servant of the Lord. It is estimated that John Wesley gave away nearly $150,000 to spread the cause of Christianity. When Wesley died he left behind him a well worn frock coat, two silver teaspoons--and the Methodist Church.

When Mr. Muller died his entire personal estate amounted to L169 9s. 4d., approximately $850, or which his household effects, books, furniture, etc., amounted to well over $500. The only money in his possession was actually $350. He died a poor man, though the Lord had entrusted to his hands well over a half-million dollars.

George Muller looked upon himself as God's steward. One of the texts which influenced him was, "Give and it shall be given unto you. Good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give unto your bossom."

He believed and saw this promise bountifully verified. "I had given," he testified, "and God caused to be given to me again bountifully."

He affirms that he believed what he read in the Bible, and acted accordingly. Though acting on God's promises, and rejecting the offer of a stated salary of L55 a year, God literally gave him a fortune...a fortune which he shared with those in need.

Out of this overflow of experience in giving, Mr. Muller had very definite thoughts on giving. Giving to him was the heart of the Christian life...give self in full surrender to God, and out of what God gives return to Him liberal gifts. This was his giving philosophy. Let us read and heed some of his advice on this subject.

"Many of the children of God,' he affirms, "lose in a great measure the privilege, and also the blessing to their own souls, of communicating to the Lord's work to the necessities of the poor, for want of a regular habit of giving."

When asked, "How shall I give?" Mr. Muller responded:

  1. Seek to keep before you that the Lord Jesus Christ has redeemed us, and that...we are not our own, because we are bought with a price....All then that we have belongs to Him, and we have to look on our possessions as a faithful steward....
  2. The habitual using of our means, the regularly communicating as the Lord prospers us, is next to be attended to. As far as practicable, we should seek to do this weekly, according to the word--'Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him' (I Cor. 16:2)...
  3. Every one should do so....
  4. With regard to the amount to be given, no rule can be laid down, because what we ought to do should not be done in a legal spirit, but from love and gratitude to the Blessed One Who died for us."

On the score of the method of giving, Mr. Muller was often asked, "How shall I put aside my gifts? Must I actually separate this money from my other money?"

"That is the simplest," he answered, "and in many respects the best way....A memorandum book may be kept, in which on one side is entered what is put aside for the Lord, to be expended on the poor, or for other benevolent and religious purposes, and on the other side may be put down what has been expended, and from time to time a balance may be struck. The amount thus put aside for the Lord is of course faithfully to be used for Him, else it would be mocking God; and therefore, instead of obtaining a blessing, it would rather be a curse."

"Am I to give with the idea of being repaid by the Lord?" a friend asked this man of prayer.

"Though we should never give," he responded, "for the sake of being repaid by the Lord, still, this will be the case, if we give from the right motives. It is God's own declaration that it will be so. This is plainly to be gathered from the following passages...'Give, and it shall be given unto you.'...'He that hath pity on the poor, lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again.'"...

From his own experience and through the many letters he received he was well able to give testimony as to the blessing which comes from systematic giving.

"I enclose a Post Office Order for L5," writes an Irish manufacturer, "which by the blessing of Almighty God, I am enabled to send you this year. You will no doubt remember that the first sum I sent to you was 5s., I think now four years ago; and, indeed at that time it was a large sum for me to send....

"For some years previous to the time I sent you the first amount I was at times much perplexed over the subject of giving; and the end of my reasoning was always that a person so straitened in circumstances as I was then, was not called upon to give. I kept this opinion until one of your Reports fell into my hands, and from the accounts contained therein, was encouraged to send you the first amount of 5s. Soon after I thought my circumstances got somewhat easier....I have proved that just as I give the Lord gives in return....I sometimes withheld when I ought not, and just as I withheld, the Lord in His infinite mercy withheld also....But above all, I have to thank God that my spiritual condition is much improved since I began to give."

"Since I began to devote a regular proportion of my earnings to the cause of God," wrote a donor from Orkney, whose gift amounted to $15, "He has, I rejoice to say, greatly increased both my ability and desire to do so."

On Proportionate Giving

One man sent Mr. Muller a Paisley shawl, worth about $25, and with the gift enclosed a note, saying, "It is now about ten years since I first adopted the principle of proportionate giving....Prior to that I used to wonder, with every sovereign I gave, whether I was not doing more than was prudent, and the result was I had little pleasure in giving. Now, however, having been greatly prospered in business, I find myself able to give fourfold what I did, and can understand better what is meant by the blessedness of giving.

....The adoption of the principle of proportionate giving has enabled me on the one hand to guide my affairs with discretion, and on the other to refrain from 'robbing God.'"

Obtaining Gifts God's Way

Mr. Muller was a stickler for obtaining gifts in God's way. "It is not enough," he says, "to obtain means for the work of God, but that these means should be obtained God's way. To ask unbelievers for means is not God's way; to press even believers to give is not God's way; but the duty and privilege of being allowed to contribute to the work of God should be pointed out, and this should be followed up with earnest prayer, believing prayer, and will result in the desired end."

This is a plan which he practiced throughout his life. Not once, even when asked to do so, did he ever tell anyone how pressing or how great were the needs. He always told this to the Lord, and expected God to move upon someone to supply those needs.

He often thought that giving in adversity would prove a greater blessing than giving in prosperity. Giving in adversity, when needs were pressing, shows that one truly trusts in God for supplying his daily needs, while giving in prosperity places upon the giver no particular hardship.

He never hoarded, for when one hoards, he affirms, God would send him to his laid-up treasures rather than to his knees in the time of need. "I have every reason to believe," he testifies, "that, had I begun to lay up, the Lord would have stopped the supplies....Let no one profess to trust in God, and yet lay up for the future wants, otherwise the Lord will first send him to the hoard he has amassed, before he can answer the prayer for more." [This is not condemning normal budgeting for weekly, monthly and quarterly expenses, and even the yearly car insurance bills we all face.]

Even to the smallest items, Mr. Muller believed that he was God's steward. He did not think that he owned, or possessed anything only as they came as gifts from the Lord to be used for God's service.

"It is the Lord's order," he observes, "that, in whatever way He is pleased to make us His stewards, whether as to temporal or spiritual things, if we are indeed acting as stewards and not as owners, he will make us stewards over more....

"Even in this life, as to temporal things, the Lord is pleased to repay those who act for Him as stewards...

Your Church Got Needs? Try this: "When needs were pressing, Mr. Muller would call the staff together for prayer, and often on getting off their knees, dray wagons would be seen backing up to the kitchen door, loaded with buns, bread, apples, cakes, potatoes, boxes of soap, sacks of peas, haunches of venison, rabbits and pheasants, and every other conceivable edible article."...

"Thus from year to year did God supply the needs out of thousands of bountiful storehouses which were consecrated to his work. When a need existed Mr. Muller would pray diligently for it, and shortly near by or thousands of miles distant, God would put it in the heart of some person to supply it. For more than sixty-three years God matched every petition of Mr. Muller with its appropriate gift."

Part II

The Christian's obligation in Gifts and Giving

A study of tithing, God's Biblical standard of giving

Malachi 3:8-11. "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' 'In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this,' says the Lord of hosts, 'If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,' says the Lord of hosts; 'And all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,' says the Lord of hosts."

Now in language, this seems to be addressing "the nation of Israel", or at this time, the nation of "Judah" (Israel having been taken into captivity in 721b.c. by Assyria). But we find a few verses later a passage that many Christian pastors and teachers correctly interpret as addressing Christians in the church age. If this passage addresses Christians, as many teach and believe, then Malachi 3:8-11 is also spoken to Christians as well as it's originally intended audience of Jews during Malachi's time in Jewish history. Let's look at this passage of Scripture. Malachi 3:16-18 states, "Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name. 'They shall be Mine,' says the Lord of hosts, 'On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.' Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him." As I said, most Christian teachers interpret this passage as being spoken to and aimed at Christians, not Jews. What is the time when the Lord makes up His Jewels? Isn't it found in 1 Corinthians 15:49-56, Revelation 5:9-10; 19:7-21? So then, Malachi 3:8-11 also applies to Christians, being a part of the very same chapter that the Lord's comments about "making up his jewels" appear in.

Now we know a tithing structure was commanded and set up for the theocratic nation of Israel in Moses time. Tithing was a commanded part of the Old Covenant Law of God commanded to Israel at Sinai. We'll read the actual commands later. But when that covenant ceased, so did the tithing command unless we can find a transference of that command into the new covenant. The apostle Paul was the great explainer of the principles and commands of the new covenant law of God, which is the law of God restored to its higher spiritual intent at Jesus' death and resurrection, and applies to all Christians everywhere and of every age. Romans is one of the greatest epistles for explaining the gospel of Christ and new covenant law of God in action. Hebrews is another epistle where Paul really gets into some solid explanations of other parts of the new covenant law of God, also called the law of Christ. So we must prove that the authority to levy tithes has somehow, somewhere, been transferred over to the Christian church as a whole. Otherwise the tithing command is merely an obsolete part of God's Old Covenant Law commanded to the nation of Israel at Sinai (sort of like a tax law which is no longer necessary, since the nation the tax law existed for was no longer in existence [it wasn't until 1948], and is no longer a theocratic government. So we must look for a transference of the tithing command somewhere in the New Testament writings before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Levitical Priesthood that had the right to levy tithes from the people of Israel, now the Jews.

Turn in your Bibles to Hebrews 6:19-20; 7:1-28. We read "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated 'king of righteousness,' and then also king of Salem, meaning 'king of peace,' without father, without mother, without geneology, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose geneology is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him." So we have established that Abraham paying tithes to Melchizedek was a far higher order of paying tithes than the people of Israel paying tithes to Levi, who was still in Abraham's loins, unborn as yet for two generations, Levi being one of Abraham's great-grandchildren, sons of Jacob. So we must look for a priesthood of the order of Melchizedek to supersede that of the priesthood of Levi. If this can be established, then what Paul has just stated here is that the tithes are now to go to this higher order priesthood, that of Melchizedek. Let's read further in verses 11-28 and see how Paul shows the establishment of the priesthood of Melchizedek. "Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law." What law? What law has Paul been talking about from verses 1-9 of Hebrews 7? Taken in context with those previous verses, the only law of God being discussed was the law of tithing. So this whole chapter is discussing the changing of the tithing law, and more precisely the transference of the right to tithe from one priesthood to another higher order of priesthood. Let's keep reading. "For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For he testifies:

'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek'
[Psalm 110:4]

For on the one hand there is an annulment of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God." Now some might say that Paul is annulling the tithing commandment here. But reading further into chapter 8 of Hebrews shows Paul is stating that the whole old covenant Law of God has been disannulled and superceded by a greater new covenant law. The parameters of these changes are explained in the book of Hebrews. But here Paul is showing that the right to tithe has been transferred to another priesthood. Now he's about to show that the old Levitical priesthood has been superceded by a far greater High Priest and priesthood. Let's keep reading. "And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath (for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him:

"The Lord has sworn and will not relent,
'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek'"
[Psalm 110:4]

by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. And there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever." So you can see by context, the "commandment" that is being annulled is the entire old covenant commandment system of law that are not carried over in the New Testament writings, and are referred to as "the law of Christ." Paul has previously shown in Hebrews 7:1-12 that the right to levy tithes has passed to the priesthood of the order of Melchizedek--the law was changed, vs. 12. Now he has just shown us that the Levitical priesthood has been superceded by a higher priesthood, the order of Melchizedek, and that the whole old covenant law of Moses has been annulled. Also there is a permanent High Priest of the order of Melchizedek, Jesus Christ. (Read Hebrews 8 to see Paul's description of the new covenant replacing the old.) Turn now to Hebrews 4:14-16 and let's read, "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

So we see Paul spelling out an important change of the right to levy tithes from the old Levitical priesthood, to the new covenant order of Melchizedek, with Jesus as High Priest of this order. Christian pastors and organizations that are truly of Christ all fall under this order of Melchizedek and have the right to levy tithes of their members. It's that simple. But Paul stated in his epistles that although he had this right to levy tithes of the churches he established, he chose not to exercise this right, but to work by hand himself to support his ministry that no one be stumbled by thinking he was "making a living off of them." But he stated elsewhere that the ox that treads the corn was not to be muzzled. As we saw and read in Part I, George Muller showed us the central attitude churches and Christian organizations ought to have and demonstrate in seeking support from their members. Paul set the same example here as well, trusting entirely to God for his welfare and support. So there is a very critical balance between the giver and receiver in the area of tithes, gifts and giving. The receiver has an obligation to refrain from demanding tithes and offerings and trust to God for them, and the giver has an obligation to give tithes, the basic pattern of giving God has established for His people. Many Christian organizations don't fully follow this balance, but it is Scriptural.

Now let's take that look at the old covenant tithe structure and how it originated.

Abraham tithed to the One who become Jesus: Genesis 14:18-20. "Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said:

'Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.'
And he gave him a tithe of all."

The Israelites commanded to tithe to the Levites: Numbers 18:21,24. "Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting...For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, 'Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.'"

The Levites commanded to tithe to the house of Aaron (from which the Levitical priests were reckoned and came from). 1st Tithe: Numbers 18:25-28. "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the Levites, and say to them: 'When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the Lord, a tenth of the tithe. And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the winepress. Thus you shall offer a heave offering to the Lord from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the Lord's heave offering from it to Aaron the priest."

As we will see a little bit later, the major portion or dollar value of a person's tithes was the tithe of cattle and livestock, and we will see that the theocratic nation of Israel had three tithes. That will be explained later. But next we're going to see how the cattle were tithed on.

Leviticus 27:30,32. "And all the tithe of the land, whether of seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's: it is holy unto the Lord...And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord." I.e. a guy would guide his herd through a restriction one by one, under a rod. Every tenth animal was the Lord's, regardless whether it was good or bad.

2nd Tithe
The second tithe, as we shall see, was to be saved by the Israelites to enable them to be able to attend the feasts of the Lord (mentioned in Leviticus 23), the main feast requiring sustenance or money being the feast of Tabernacles in the fall. The law of the firstborn covered the meat portion of this second tithe to be saved for feasts. As we shall see, the males went to God, and we're given to the Levites for their 2nd tithe. Thus they didn't have to save a second tithe. The first-born females were saved for the individual's 2nd tithe, to be taken to the feasts. They could be sold and converted to money and that money taken to the feasts, or a portion could be sold and converted to money, whatever the person desired. But the first-born females or money from their sale had to be taken to the feasts. The firstborn males had to be given to the Lord, i.e. the Levites, and was for their second tithe for the Holy Day seasons. Let's read the Scriptures showing this. We find this going back to Abel.

Genesis 4:4. "And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering..." Leviticus 27:26. "Only the firstling of the beasts, which should be the Lord's firstling, no man shall sanctify it: whether it be ox, or sheep; it is the Lord's." Exodus 13:1-2,12-13. "And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, 'Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast: it is mine...That thou shalt set apart unto the Lord all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the Lord's. And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb...and all the firstborn of man among thy children shall thou redeem." By inference, and the Jews will confirm this, the female firstborn were kept and set aside for the individual's 2nd tithe in cattle. Only was a literal tithe taken of the cattle for first tithe. A second full tithe of cattle was not required, only the firstborn were required to be set aside, males to the Levites, females for your own 2nd tithe on the hoof for Holy Day seasons.

The Levites take the place of the firstborn of the Israelite male children: (that's why they were to be redeemed.) Numbers 8:15-18. "And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering [a living offering, not sacrificed like cattle. Cf. Romans 12:1-2]. For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me. For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself. And I have taken the Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel.

2nd and 3d tithe explained:
Deuteronomy 14:22-27. "Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks: that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord they God always. And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the Lord thy God shall choose to set him name there, when the Lord thy God hath blessed thee: then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose: and thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household. And the Levite that is within thy gates ["within thy gates" i.e. living within your local town or community]; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee. [i.e. be liberal with your 2nd tithe. He only gets the firstborn males--no corn, wine or oil--so give him some.] Deuteromy 12:17-19. "Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand: but thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto. Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth." It becomes obvious that this "tithe of thy corn, and of thy wine, and of thy oil and firstlings of thy herd [males for the Levites, females for the individual]" is referring to a second tithe which was to be taken to the major feasts of Israel spelled out in Leviticus 23. The two major feast seasons were Passover and the 7 days of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles. All Israel was to go to the place the Lord placed his name at and attend these Holy Days, called the Feasts of the Lord. Historically, we can see that this place was Jerusalem at the Temple Solomon built, and in the time of Jesus, the Temple that Herod embellished on the same site as Solomon's Temple. There appears to be no first tithe of corn, wine and oil, or seed and fruit trees. Just a first tithe or tenth of every animal passing under the rod. The big dollar value in tithes was always cattle and sheep, not the corn, wine and oil. Cattle and sheep could be sold and the money used to buy the other items. The Levitical priesthood ran the ministry of the Lord and ministered to the people of Israel for the Lord. Their pay was every tenth animal going under the rod. Now a 3rd tithe is mentioned.

A 3rd tithe:
Deuteronomy 14:28-29. "At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: and the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates [i.e. within your town, community], shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest."

This according to Jewish scholars was a third tithe, separate from the 1st and 2nd. It wasn't the first tithe now put aside for a different use. It was a welfare tithe, required of a person every third year. The Lord put a great deal of emphasis on taking care of the fatherless and widows, both in the Old Testament and New Testament (read I Timothy 5:3-8, 16 where Timothy as a pastor is charged with taking care of widows, if the widow's family can't). But as can be surmised, these 3 tithes were part of the ancient theocratic government of Israel's tax code for the running of a nation. The religious teachers and instructors that taught the Law of the Land, the Law of God, to the people were the Levites and the Levitical Priesthood. The tithes paid for their support. The Word and Law of God was taught at the Holy Days and Festival seasons, and the 2nd tithe guaranteed each Israelite had the funds to attend, no excuses. Romans 14 points out that the keeping of Sabbaths and Holy Days is now voluntary, and we find Jewish Christians, then and now observing them, and Gentile Christians not doing so. We all have that freedom in Christ as spelled out by the apostle Paul in Romans 14 to do as we please in that area. If one wants to save a 2nd tithe to enable the observing of these days, that is a totally voluntary thing, and no such new covenant requirement exists.

As we have seen, the right to levy tithes has passed from the Levitical Priesthood to the Priesthood of Melchizedek (Jesus Christ). Jesus set the example through the apostle Paul that this priesthood of Melchizedek is not to be pushy or greedy in demanding their portion or tithe, and more recently George Mueller made the same strong statements as Paul did through his life. So in Part I we saw the proper attitude that Christian churches and organizations are to have toward seeking the tithe/offerings of their flocks. The reason so many people are mistrustful of giving to Christian churches and organizations is mainly due to the attitude they exhibit in either demanding their portion or in the plain greed exhibited by some less than reputable televangelists. The body of Christ must strive to correct this nasty public image. In this Part II we have seen the obligation of the Christian to give to the new covenant priesthood of Melchizedek, i.e. the Christian church and/or denomination he or she may belong to, the organization that spiritually feeds that individual. The major portion of the Christian's tithe/offering should go to the Christian church and/or denomination that spiritually nourishes him or her. George Mueller stated, "We consider every believer bound...to help the cause of Christ."

[There are some commentaries that do not believe that Hebrews 7:1-28 is trying to prove that the right to levy tithes had been passed from the Levitical Priesthood to the Priesthood of Melchizedek. There are other evangelical commentaries that do believe Hebrews 7:1-28 is indeed trying to show this. I have chosen to go along with those that do believe this to be the case, as this is the middle of the road in the question of Christian giving. If one does a careful study of everything Jesus said about how much we ought to be willing to give, one will find that the percentage goes way above the one-tenth tithe requirement of the Old Testament--as he brought out in giving the example of the one widow who gave all she had. Many Christians give much less than a tithe to the cause of Jesus Christ (and the churches they attend). Some very few give far more than 10 percent. In my estimation, tithing should be the minimum baseline of the average Christian. Often times many of us must give that tenth (even taken from the net of our pay) in faith that the Lord will make up the difference, knowing full well if we give that 10 percent our budgets are broken. But in my own personal experience God always makes up the difference. So for many of us Christians, giving a tenth becomes an act of faith, and God rewards faith. Malachi 3:8-11 is a very good description of some of the rewards God attaches to our faith in giving when we do it knowing full well we can't afford it. For others, better off than most of us, a tithe is very affordable, and that is where Jesus' higher standards of giving come into play, if you will. This article about tithing then is primarily intended to set a middle of the road standard.]

Part III

Who Should We Give To?

The major portion of one's tithe/offerings should always go to the Christian organization that most nourishes that individual spiritually. Paul said that the church is the mother of us all, i.e. our spiritual Mom. God is our Father in heaven who begot us. We were born-again into the church, the body of Christ. We each have different Mom's in the sense that some of us were born into different Christian churches than others. So whoever was or is currently functioning as your spiritual Mom, providing weekly nourishment through a pastor and church services, Bible studies, prayer-meetings etc., that is the Christian organization that should receive the major portion of your tithe/offerings.

As mentioned before, a whole host of quality Christian evangelical and teaching ministries have sprung up around the world, and a lot of them are non-denominational or inter-denominational. They all serve to spread the gospel and help nourish and disciple Christians around the world. As such, they also are worthy of our financial attention as well as our prayers. So a Christian should also consider donating a smaller portion of his or her tithe/offerings (I would say no more than one third) to a worthy Christian evangelical or teaching ministry that benefits the whole body of Christ across denominational lines. [i.e. I donate about 12 dollars a week to the JESUS Film Project, and the rest of my tithe/offering goes to the church I attend.] George Mueller set this example for us by donating a portion of the funds given to him for his Christian work and orphan houses, and he donated it to qualified Christian evangelical and teaching ministries. To name just a few that I have come across that are reputable and worthy in both these categories:

  1. EVANGELISM: Campus Crusade for Christ International's JESUS Film Project (http://www.jesusfilm.org/easygift). On this site, log onto "What is Evangelism?" and then onto the article "The JESUS Film Project" to learn more about this Christian evangelical organization that is spreading the gospel around the world in a highly effective manner, and totally non-denominationally. Many Christian churches and denominations now support this worthy organization, and many Christian churches are being planted around the world as a direct result of their efforts coupled to the Lord's massive calling of people through the JESUS film. Their address is THE JESUS FILM PROJECT, PO BOX 628222, ORLANDO, FLORIDA 32862-9841. To learn more from them click on the above hypertext.

  2. Mission Aviation Fellowship, P.O. Box 3202 Redlands, CA 92373-0998. For a description of this group that assists and supplies evangelists in remote parts of the world, click on "What is Evangelism?" and then on "Mission Aviation Fellowship". They are a small group that has a far-reaching effect on evangelism.

  3. TEACHING MINISTRIES: Dr. Charles Stanley's InTouch Ministries, P.O. Box 7900, Atlanta, Georgia 30357. Online: http://www.intouch.org . An example of his work can be read in the section "What is Prayer?", article "Learning to Pray The Bible Way." The aim of his ministry is to help pastors and their congregations grow by providing quality Christian growth resources (just like this website, but he has far more to offer!). "Our Mission Is To Lead People Into A Growing Relationship With Jesus Christ And To Strengthen The Local Church." Not a bad mission, Dr. Stanley.

  4. The Word For Today, PO Box 8000, Costa Mesa, California 92628. Online http://www.thewordfortoday.org . (This is the Christian resource ministry of the Calvary Chapel movement.)

  5. CHRISTIAN VERSION OF C.A.R.E.: Samaritan's Purse. Online: http://www.samaritanspurse.org . "To learn more about this incredible work of Christian caring and evangelism log onto their site, email them and ask if they could send you Franklin Graham's autobiography, which will thoroughly describe this work of God and how it got started." To read an interesting description of what Samaritan's Purse is all about CLICK HERE."


  6. Sister-Church Links: Southeast Asia

So we see that other than the churches and denominations we belong to that should be receiving the major portion of our tithe/offerings, there are deserving quality Christian organizations that one can and should give a smaller portion of those tithe/offerings to. As George Mueller stated, such organizations, like the few listed above, should be wholly and completely run and founded by Christians, and they should believe and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There are plenty of small Christian teaching ministries that are also worthy of our support, but often go unnoticed. There is nothing wrong with giving a smaller portion of your tithe/offerings to these as well. The ultimate choice is yours. The body of Christ is starting to move and function inter-denominationally and the flow of funding is vital to the Work Jesus is now performing through these varied works of his. Don't miss out on the opportunity to serve and assist the Works Jesus is doing around the world. Let God's Spirit and Word be your guide. I have noticed that some of these organizations (unlike the principles of George Mueller), have to advertise their needs amongst other Christians and Christian groups to obtain sufficient funding. This is not wrong and probably necessary because they are not a denomination or church with a wide base of givers supporting them. Their asking is essential to the furtherance of the works the Lord is working through them, and should not to be confused with the grabbing attitude displayed by less than reputable televangelists who ask and beg the public for money. [ABOUT THIS WEBSITE]

Editor UNITYINCHRIST.COM